Threats have been made against UN targets in Lebanon in recent weeks, the world body’s outgoing envoy to the country said Thursday.
“There were some credible reports that were shared with us, the UN, by the Lebanese army itself of potential threats” in past weeks, Michael Williams told a press conference at United Nations headquarters.
A French UN patrol was attacked on July 26 and Italian peacekeepers were targeted on May 27, and Williams stressed that no one has yet been detained for the attacks.
“The perpetrators of the attacks are still present in Lebanon and may still have the intent to carry out further attacks against (UN mission) UNIFIL or against other UN targets,” added Williams, who has been UN special coordinator for Lebanon since 2008.
Lebanese authorities have tightened security around the Beirut headquarters of the UN economic and social council for West Asia because of the heightened risk of an attack, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said this week.
Williams said the agency would be leaving the building because of its glass facade and added the UN had carried out a global review of security since a bomb attack on its Nigeria headquarters in August in which 23 people died.
“There are risks as everybody knows,” said Williams, who will now take up a seat in the House of Lords, Britain’s upper house.
“There is an abundance of weaponry in Lebanon,” he said. “There has been a history over the years, tragically, of terrorist attacks.”